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NBA Mock Draft 2018: New projections by ESPN and The Athletic

The latest NBA Draft big board by ESPN with a mock draft from The Athletic to boot.

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Raptors v Wizards Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As the pre-draft season rolls on, it continues to look like the Kentucky Wildcats will have two first-round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The latest mock draft by The Athletic has two Cats cracking the lottery, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander goes No. 12 to the Los Angeles Clippers. They’re one of the few NBA teams that doesn’t currently have a UK player, and they also need to find a point guard for the future, making them a good fit for Shai.

After that, Kevin Knox goes No. 14 to the Denver Nuggets, who already have former Cats Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles. Shai has actually been mocked to Denver on several occasions, but Knox is a better fit for what Denver needs right now.

The only other Wildcat in this projection is Hamidou Diallo, who goes 36th to the Sacramento Kings. Diallo has been consistently projected to go in the early second round, which is probably a big reason why he’s already signed with an agent and locked himself into the draft.

While Diallo probably won’t be a first-round pick, a lot of those early second-rounders get guaranteed contracts, so perhaps he’ll end up with one as well.

After those three, no other Wildcats are in this projection. PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel don’t have a lot of stock right now, so it’s no real surprise to see them not even part of this projection.

That’s further echoed in the latest draft rankings by ESPN, who has Shai ranked 12th, Knox 14th and Diallo 34th.

But Washington is barely in draftable range at 51 overall, while Vanderbilt is 65th, and Gabriel isn’t even in the top 100.

Despite the buzz that Washington wants to stay in the draft, he needs to think long and hard if that’s the best decision for his future. He has a world of potential that, if tapped into, could vault him into the first round and a guaranteed contract in 2019.

The same can be said for Gabriel, but we all know his family situation is different and that he wants to support them now. I do think if he stays in the draft, he’ll get an invite to an NBA training camp and probably play in the summer league.

As for Vanderbilt, I really believe he’s coming back and is just testing the waters to see what NBA evaluators think of him.